Brands Shouldn’t Ignore Twitter Complaints

Don't let your customers talk to the hand. Listen to your brand mentions.

I know what they say about anecdotal research, but recent findings by Maritz Research confirm my personal experience as a Twitter user and community manager. If people take the time to complain about a brand on twitter, they expect a response. Further, ANY type of response is usually better than nothing.

Takeaways? Monitor mentions of your brand using simple tools like Tweetdeck. Take a few minutes each day to respond, especially to negative comments. (Of course it’s nice to respond to positive feedback too!)

Resarch Summary

Maritz Research surveyed an online panel of 1,298 US consumers at least 18 years of age pre-identified as:

  • Twitter users who frequently tweet
  • Those who have used Twitter to complain about a specific product, service, brand or company


  • Nearly half of respondents expected the company to read their Tweet
  • Nearly 1/3 of respondents received a response from the company about their Twitter complaint

Of those who received follow-up:

  • 83% said they liked or loved hearing from the company
  • Only 4% didn’t like or hated hearing from the company
  • 63% would not like it or hate it if the company contacted them about something other than their complaint tweet

Read the full summary.


Lies, Damn Lies and Social Media

A single tweet sparks an inferno. (More like Mrs. O'Leary's cow).

AKA, the tweet heard ’round the world.

I generally don’t blog about work-related crises (especially when it’s sports-related), but this weekend’s social media mayhem deserves an exception.

I have witnessed how fast real news and fake news can spread via social media, especially twitter. What makes us hit the RT or the share button so quickly? I’ll leave that to behavioral experts. Even as my fingers are itching to spread information as fast as I can (and, oh, to be the first is so thrilling), I take the extra time to confirm what I’m sharing. I want my followers and friends to trust my updates.

As everyone knows, Texas Tech and Texas A&M are huge rivals, so I was definitely prepared for a social media smackdown Saturday and Sunday (especially if we lost). What I wasn’t prepared for came in via Facebook about 2:40 pm Saturday. “Shame shame tech fans! Disgusting what was done to A&M busses!”

Wait, what?

By Sunday morning, Twitter, Facebook, bloggers and mainstream media from USA Today to ESPN had LITERALLY picked up the ball and run with it. The ball? A tweet from A&M AD Bill Byrne.

Our own community was ripping us apart, condemning our students for everything from spray painting the buses to physically depositing bowl movements on the bus floors. With no proof, no police report, no investigation, no … FACTS. Just a single tweet.

I was very proud of the statement issued late yesterday (10/10) by Texas Tech AFTER an investigation had been conducted:

Many of you are aware of a tweet from a Texas A&M official that their team buses were spray painted and animal feces were spread inside of the buses early Saturday morning. The clear implication of the tweet was that this was the responsibility of Texas Tech fans or students. Texas Tech has conducted an investigation regarding this allegation, and has discovered the following:

  • The buses were not spray painted. Instead, washable shoe polish was used on the windows of one of the buses.
  • No feces were found either in or on the buses. Fish bait was dropped onto the floor of one of the buses.
  • The alleged “vandalism” was cleaned by the bus drivers and Holiday Inn staff before it was seen by the A&M official who tweeted the information.

While incidents such as the ones alleged are inappropriate and strongly condemned by Texas Tech, it is no less wrong to condemn the entirety of our university, students and supporters by posting inaccurate information on the internet for the purpose of sensationalizing the actions of one or a very few. We are disturbed by the careless use of social media to share these inaccuracies.


Foursquare vs. Twitter

Is the checkin mightier than the tweet?
Is the checkin mightier than the tweet?

I was guest lecturing with a colleague (Scott Irlbeck) at an emerging media class this week and one of the students pointed out that Texas Tech has nearly as many followers on Foursquare as we do on Twitter.


Wait. That can’t be right. Can it?

Foursquare recently celebrated 10 million users, while Twitter has surpassed 200 million users (of course I’m betting 20% or more of those accounts are spam).

How is it possible that the Texas Tech twitter account that was launched in November, 2008, has just over 12,000 followers and our Foursquare account, launched in July last year, has nearly 11,000? I would love for the Texas Tech team to take all the credit, but I’m scratching my head over this one. We are located in Lubbock after all. Specials and discounts are not exactly easy to come by.

Is gamification really that powerful? I have more questions than I have answers. What do you think?

Will Netflix Cave?

Netflix enduring customer outcry on Facebook

After Netflix announced it’s new pricing scheme, people have taken to social media in droves to voice their concerns over the $7.99 price points for streaming AND unlimited DVD service, $15.98 for both. Ummm, anyone who deals with pricing knows, it’s risky to do a “two-fer” without giving a break. Why not make it $13.99 or even $14.98?

Dear Netflix” is trending on Twitter (WORLDWIDE). And at around 11 am CDT, they had 33,373 comments on Facebook. Oh, my.

The Netflix blog addresses the pricing in a way that I think seems disconnected: “Given the long life we think DVDs by mail will have, treating DVDs as a $2 add on to our unlimited streaming plan neither makes great financial sense nor satisfies people who just want DVDs.”

Will Netflix stick to their business strategy or cave in to the pressure? My guess is that they will have no choice but to make some kind of adjustment. Having weathered some PR storms myself, it’s hard to pinpoint current customer voices in all the din. Many of the complainers may not be former, current or future Netflix customers. Hang in Netflix!

Time will tell. What do you think? Stay tuned and I’ll keep this post updated!

Twitter: Waste of Time or Revolutionary Communication Tool?

Twitter. A waste of time or revolutionary communication tool?
Are all those tweets a colossal waste of time?

Two recent headlines caught me eye: Is Twitter a Waste of Time? (via Problogger) and Twitter Surpasses 200 Million Tweets Per Day (via Mashable).

What a dichotomy! The microblog lends itself so readily to volume, I guess it’s no revelation that more doesn’t necessarily equal better. I think it all depends on HOW you use it, just like anything else.

Waste of Time?

The biggest case for time waster: 40% of tweets are fragments of conversation. Very true. I often get interested in a twitter exchange, then have to back track to get the whole conversation.

Tweetdeck (with all it’s flaws) is my favorite Twitter time-saving/organizational tool that solves this problem. I can follow accounts with one click. Absolutely love it (well, except for the ipad version, it’s too slow).


The biggest case for revolutionary: hashtags. The lowly pound sign has been elevated to celebrity status. Tweetdeck to the rescue! It comes set up with a column showing trending topics/hashtags and also lets you follow hashtags with one click. But now that hashtags are mainstream, following last week’s Casey Anthony’s #notguilty verdict and the swan song for NASA’s #Atlantis launch, the columns were literally a blur. So I had to move to Twitter Web Access in order to make any sense of the conversations. Hopefully Tweetdeck is working on a manual throttle solution. Otherwise, hashtags are going to become useless.

Other interesting factoids from the Problogger research/infographic:

How we use twitter:

  • Learn about products/services 42%
  • Provide opinions about products/services 41%
  • Ask for opinions about products/services 31%
  • Seek customer support 19%

How you should use twitter:

  • Widen your network
  • Learn stuff
  • Showcase your stuff

I would add “Breaking News” to the list. Twitter works for me, how about you?

Lisa DuBois Low is co-founder of SmartGirlsDigital and writes for the company blog, where this article originally ran. Follow SmartGirlsDigital on Twitter @SmartGirls2 and like us on Facebook.

Shut the Tweet Up

Don't tweet it if you don't want the world to see it.

Not sure about anyone else, but I’m sick to death of this trend in the news: “_______ apologizes for _______ tweets.” It’s like a bad Mad Lib game (RIP Leonard Stern).

Social media etiquette 101: don’t post anything you wouldn’t want on the front page of the New York Times. I would think that, given the number of scandals in the twitterverse, celebs and other public figures would think twice. Apparently not so much. Do we really need GMail Goggles for Twitter?

But at least they aren’t pretending their account was hacked.

I’m all about the prompt apology in social media, but I think we’ve come to the point that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Think before you tweet!

#Joplin: The Social Media Effect

Female lab at the Joplin Humane Society Animal Adoption & Resource Center via Lost & Found Tornado Pets 2011.
It’s breaking my heart to watch the headlines, ireports and tweets as the full impact of the Joplin tornado unfolds.

I followed the impact social media had on the coverage and response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March and the tornado outbreak that ravaged the town of Tuscaloosa in April, but I sit here amazed at the social media response to Joplin. Maybe it hits home for me because I lived and worked in the KC area for many years. Maybe it’s because the first tweets I saw were from a colleague in Pittsburg, KS. All I know is that I’m touched and inspired by what I’m watching.

Update: New York Times reporter Brian Stelter has posted a thoughtful and compelling account of how he used Twitter to report on the aftermath of the recent tornado in Joplin, Missouri.